called in its loan to Moldova and took control of that country’s gas industry. Russian gas, delivered by pipeline through Ukraine, is essential to Moldova’s energy supply. Moldova has been buying its gas on credit, running up a tab of $650 million, equal to about 6.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. When Gazprom demanded payment, the Moldovan government, its expenses already outrunning its revenues by close to a billion dollars a year, had neither the cash to pay up nor the creditworthiness to borrow abroad.

Desperate to secure continued gas deliveries, Moldova agreed to a deal that creates a 50-50 Russo-Moldovan joint venture,